BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A Fort Madison native brought his story of personal persistence and rise through the harsh world of recording artists back home Thursday afternoon
Fort Madison native and national recording artist Brandon Gibbs took time out of his touring schedule to talk with the FMHS student body about moving through personal goals without letting others derail your dreams.
The presentation was sponsored by the Fort Madison Activities Department and Gibbs was welcomed to the floor by FMHS activities director Andy Mitchell.
Gibbs said he wanted to bring a message to the group after he heard of the attempted suicide by a teenager in town after being bullied.
I’ve just seen a surge of people talking about bullying and getting bullied and of course I’m from here and I read about a case where someone was bullied and tried to take care of it in not so great a way.” Gibbs said after the morning hour-long assembly. “I said, you know, I’ve got to get back home and talk about this because people see me as a a rocker or guy that may have it all but they don’t know what goes on behind closed doors or what went on inside. And in this business you put yourself out there and and it can make you vulnerable.”
Gibbs started his presentation by bringing volunteers in from the student body to form a “band” and then asked a couple instructors including Mike Ehlers and Tracy Madsen to be part of the group as well. Showing the students that individually things can be tough, but together bigger things can be accomplished.
He also gave a speech to the group outlining his time building a band with his brother, who is a now a school resource officer and liaison officer with the Fort Madison Police Department.
Brandon Gibbs talked about how hard it was after building a local, then regional, and then national recording band with his brother, and then having his brother leave the band.
“I thought it was over…it was over. It was a punch in the stomach,” Gibbs said with Brent standing in the gymnasium doorway. “But he told me he was taking another road, that he had another career he wanted to pursue.”
Gibbs said he thought it was over for him at that time and left the recording industry taking a job as a janitor to pay the bills. He said the person who gave him the job as the custodian eventually let him go because he knew Gibbs was not living the life he wanted.
“He said I’m letting you go because I can’t continue to watch you live this life. It’s not what you want and you need to go back and do what you do,” Gibbs recalled.
So he went back to recording and found hard times and he said the reaction from the people who knew him was much harder to bear than the task itself. He said he would read and hear comments from people about “going out and finding a real job” or realizing that this wasn’t the business for him.
He was ready to give up after a group of people told him his work trying to rebuild his career wasn’t as good as his previous work. He was ready to give up until his mother called him and told him ESPN had emailed and wanted to use one his songs, “This Town” on their network.
Gibbs has toured as front man for Poison, played with Devil City Angels, and has written and performed songs in a variety of venues.
He said he wants people to realize that he’s a musician but also has a message that life can take weird paths but staying true to who you are is the key to success and perseverance.
With everyone carrying social media with them, he said people should use that to power their dreams and not derail them.
“So now you’ve go the Internet, Facebook, and other things and people can take whatever jabs they want,” he said. I wanted to take the opportunity to tell them you can take the jabs and they can empower you. You don’t have to let it hurt you.”
He said he’s spoken at several adult rallies and other locations but it was the first time he’s given a presentation to students.
“This is the first high school, but I’ve done adult rallies, and suicide bully preventions, but honest-to-God, this was like my first show.”
He said he starts touring again this week, but would like to continue to work with students and adults alike.